Zoom Booth Unveiled! Madagascar Opens New American Corner
To broaden public engagement in the capital, Mission Madagascar opened a new American Corner at the University of Antananarivo (AC Tana) on February 10. Ambassador Pierangelo, alongside the university president, headlined a ribbon cutting ceremony that showcased the U.S. government’s investment in a first-class programming space on the campus of the nation’s flagship public university with a student population of more than 33,000.
With its innovative “Zoom Booth” and Mini Studio video conferencing features and highly valued research databases, the new American Corner brings unique capacity to the university and the broader community. These assets enable the American Corner to compete toe-to-toe with the other cultural centers on its campus. In the weeks since the opening event, an average of 250 daily visitors have used the Corner’s facilities or joined programs. This overwhelmingly positive response demonstrates the important role that American Corners play in maintaining a visible, persistent U.S. presence and advancing U.S. interests throughout Madagascar.
In a first among American Corners worldwide, AC Tana is prototyping “Zoom Booth” and Mini Studio video conferencing facilities that enable individual or small groups to reliably join video conferences and virtual programs, even while other American Corner activities are underway in the main space. The “Zoom Booth” is a sound-proofed, phone booth-sized unit equipped with high quality video conferencing and recording equipment including a laptop, camera, speakers, and ring light. The Mini Studio is similarly equipped, but big enough for two participants and a camera operator. Early users of the “Zoom Booth” and Mini Studio have included faculty joining virtual conferences; young professionals sitting for international job interviews; communications majors recording video presentations for their classes; and students taking TOEFL and Duolingo internet-based exams to apply to U.S. universities, including candidates applying to the U.S. military academies.